CHICAGO -- Aside from his superstar name and championship pedigree, one of the biggest reasons the Chicago Bulls signed Dwyane Wade over the summer was his ability to teach and mentor the team's young core of players. That message has been hammered home during the Bulls' first week of training camp by teammates and coaches as both Wade and the Bulls adjust to each other.
To understand how much respect the 34-year-old has already garnered during his first week as a Bull, consider that Wade acknowledged Saturday that Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has given him carte blanche to stop practice whenever he sees fit in order to give his teammates feedback.
"No question," Wade said after Saturday's practice. "That’s one of the reasons I’m here as well. One of the reasons they were interested in me is because of what I come with from the standpoint of being there. I’ve been to five Finals and have a lot of experience. Sitting down with [Hoiberg] talking about all our young guys and what they can learn from me and also Jimmy [Butler] as well and [Rajon] Rondo as well. As I said in my post, it’s about us policing each other, us three leaders but also passing it down to other guys. So, yes, he gave myself -- and I’m sure he gave Rondo and Jimmy -- carte blanche to be able to say the things we need to say, but at the same time respect what coach is doing and respect what coach is saying and find your times to talk."
Wade has found several times to express himself over the first week -- something that many within the Bulls' organization have welcomed.
"The coaching staff really doesn't need to say much because before you know it, every time I turn around D-Wade is stopping the play and he's cursing guys out as well," Bulls power forward Taj Gibson said. "And it's great and our young guys are understanding to it. They're still in here early; they're staying late. And they understand what we need to do and that's really good for us early."
Wade made it clear when he signed with the Bulls that they were "Jimmy's team," but he has been showing an ability to get his message across to teammates early in his Bulls tenure, though he did chuckle at Gibson's characterization.
"Yeah, that was so harsh, Taj," Wade said. "I read that. I wouldn’t say cussing out. I would say getting my point across -- tough love. But good love. I would stop practice if I see something. We got to police each other. And I want people to do the same to me. There are certain times I’ve done things that I need to be better at, and you’ll hear Rondo say something to me or Jimmy say something to me. And I want it to be like that with everybody. I don’t want it just be us three always talking. I want everyone to feel confident that they can maybe not yell at everybody but pull a guy aside and say, ‘Hey, D, you should’ve been there on this.’ We want to get everyone comfortable with that. I’ve been around a long time. If I see something that I think we can nip in the bud early, you want to nip it in the bud."
Whatever Wade has been doing early in camp has been working for the Bulls from a preparation perspective. Hoiberg called Friday's practice "the most competitive practice we've had here in two years." Hoiberg sounds pleased with the competitive banter among the teammates.
"Guys have been able to talk to each other constructively and have taken it the right way," Hoiberg said. "When you have that, when you have that type of leadership, I think it gives you a chance."
As Wade pointed out during his post-practice media session, there isn't much he hasn't seen during his time in the NBA. He knows what he wants his teammates to accomplish during camp, and he wants to help them become better as a group.
"I feel like I talk enough," Wade said. "I don’t ever want to talk too much where guys start rolling their eyes when I say something. I’m the kind of person that when I talk, I want it to mean something. When I talk to my kids at home, it’s gotta mean something to them. They gotta be a little afraid that they don’t know what’s going to happen."